Mainstream media is fascinated by Twitter. Or rather, they are fascinated by their mistaken idea of what Twitter is. The media cannot understand why a site where people talk about what they had for lunch 5 minutes ago is big news.
Let’s take this article, A load of Twitter. This article is condescending to Twitter users and is clearly written by someone who has never used the service in their entire life. Their also only examples of Twitter users are celebrities which are the Twitter hanger’s on and not the real users. The biggest issue is that these so called experts they interviewed clearly are only reacting to what they think Twitter is rather than what it actually is. Here are a few highlights:
- The clinical psychologist Oliver James has his reservations. “Twittering stems from a lack of identity. It’s a constant update of who you are, what you are, where you are. Nobody would Twitter if they had a strong sense of identity.”
- “We are the most narcissistic age ever,” agrees Dr David Lewis, a cognitive neuropsychologist and director of research based at the University of Sussex. “Using Twitter suggests a level of insecurity whereby, unless people recognise you, you cease to exist. It may stave off insecurity in the short term, but it won’t cure it.”
- “To ‘follow’ someone is to have a fantasy of who this person you’re following is, and you use it as a map reference or signpost to guide your own life because you are lost,” says James. “I would guess that the typical profile of a ‘follower’ is someone who is young and who feels marginalised, empty and pointless. They don’t have an inner life,” he says.
I love the Daily Show but even they don’t get it:
While the original idea behind Twitter may have been tweeting about what you ate for lunch five minutes ago or where you are, it has evolved into a “just the fact, please” instant news and advice hub. It’s like the users realized the full potential of Twitter before even the creators of the site did. News critics of Twitter focus on how mundane most tweets are. If they were following the right people, they would find that could not be farther from the truth.
If you are only tweeting about yourself (their idea of the usual Twitter user) you will be unfollowed quickly unless you are a celebrity. The people who are using Twitter are tweeting about everything but themselves which is what makes the platform useful.
Very few of the most followed users on Twitter are just tweeting about their day to day. Instead, people are sharing links, advice, news, quotes etc. By following people of your field and interests, Twitter can be more useful than a paid course and more effective than reading blogs or books on your topic. It is a wealth of information that you can use to build whatever you do. You not only get the stories of the day in your industry, at a glance you get several people’s take on it. It’s the ability to show something to the entire world at once and get everyone’s take on it. That is some powerful stuff!
On Twitter, you can get the news and only the news from several perspectives all at once. No celebrity news anchor soapboxing, no right or left wing skew, no fluff stores or sensationalism. No wonder mainstream media belittles it as a self-indulgent fad! Twitter could drive most pundits out of a job. It looks ready to issue in a new world where, gasp, the news only reports the news and would have to actually present both sides of an issue. I can just feel their fear from here.
By shortening the posts as much as they do, Twitter is much more effective at getting you information that you want to see. If a headline goes by, you can click for more info or not depending on how interested you are instead of having to sit through a commercial or that story until they get to the new one. Even news articles are padded with so much extra, Twitter let’s you just get the facts which is great when you are busy. Successful people are busy people and saving us time is the best way to earn our love. Twitter saves a lot of time.
I don’t have to tell you why Twitter is an important business tool. In fact, even the news outlets themselves would see it after even a cursory glance. So then why do they insist on misreporting it as a hub of mindless chatter about people’s day to day?
The only reason I can think is that they are afraid it will put them out of a job.
We briefly had this “all Twitter users are insecure” conversation on Twitter last week but I wanted to expand it. Please share your thoughts below.